CELDT Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the CELDT?State law (Education Code sections 313 and 60810) and federal laws (Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA]) require that local educational agencies (LEAs) administer a state test of English language proficiency and develop Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) for: (1) newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English, as an initial assessment, and (2) students who are English learners, as an annual assessment. For California’s public school students, this test is the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).
The purposes of the CELDT are the following:
- To identify students who are limited English proficient (LEP)
- To determine the level of English language proficiency of LEP students
- To assess the progress of LEP students in acquiring the skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing in English
Who must take the CELDT?
In accordance with Education Code Section 60810(d), one of the purposes of the CELDT is to identify students who are limited English proficient (LEP). EC Section 306(a) defines an LEP student as a student who does not speak English or whose native language is not English and who is not currently able to perform ordinary classroom work in English.
For all students in kindergarten through grade twelve, upon first enrollment in a California public school, the LEA uses a standardized procedure to determine a student’s primary language. This procedure usually begins with a home language survey (HLS), which is completed by the parents or guardians at the time the student is first enrolled.
Once the home language determination is made, it does not need to be redetermined unless the results are disputed by a parent or guardian. If the HLS is completed in error, the parent or guardian may make a request to change it. However, once a student is assessed on the CELDT and identified as an English learner, changing the HLS will not change the student’s identification. A student’s English learner status will change only when reclassification criteria are met.
A sample HLS is available on the California Department of Education's (CDE's) English Learner Forms Web page. The State Board of Education (SBE) approved the following guidelines for interpreting the sample survey. If a language other than English is indicated on:
- Any of the first three questions, the student should be tested with the CELDT.
- The fourth question, the student may be test at the LEA's discretion.
- For questions related to the HLS, contact the CDE Language Policy and Leadership Office at 916-319-0845.
What does the CELDT assess?The CELDT assesses students in grades kindergarten through twelve in four areas: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. The CELDT is aligned to the English Language Development (ELD) standards adopted by the SBE in 1999, which are available on the CDE's Content Standards Web page.
The CELDT domains and test components are as follows:
- Following Oral Directions
- Teacher Talk
- Extended Listening Comprehension
- Rhyming (Grades K, 1, and 2 only)
- Oral Vocabulary
- Speech Functions
- Choose and Give Reasons
- 4-Picture Narrative
- Word Analysis
- Fluency and Systemic Vocabulary Development
- Reading Comprehension Writing
Writing (Kindergarten and Grade 1)
- Copying Letters and Word
- Writing Words
- Punctuation and Capitalization
Writing (Grades 2–12)
- Grammar and Structure
- Writing Sentences
- Writing Short Composition
For an overview of the CELDT, watch the CELDT Fundamentals Videos on the Educational Data Systems's CELDT Training Web page
Do we administer all domains of the CELDT even though a student scored an Early Advanced or Advanced on the previous year’s CELDT?
Yes. Although Senate Bill (SB) 753 was signed into law in October 2011 and proposed to change the CELDT scoring process by “banking” the domain scores of Early Advanced or Advanced, federal law does not permit the banking of scores. Therefore, LEAs must continue to test students in all four domains annually until reclassification occurs.
Who can give the CELDT?Only test examiners who are employees of the LEA, are proficient in speaking English, have received formal CELDT training, and have completed the test security affidavit may administer the CELDT.
Do English learners with disabilities take the CELDT?Yes. English learners, and newly enrolled students who have a home language other than English, with disabilities must be tested. Students with disabilities who participate in the CELDT may use variations, accommodations, and/or modifications as specified in their individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans. A list of allowable variations, accommodations, and modifications is outlined in the "Matrix Two: Matrix of Variations, Accommodations, and Modifications for Administration of the California High School Exit Examination, California English Language Development Test, and the Physical Fitness Test," which is available on the CDE's Assessment Information Web page. Students with disabilities may take an alternate assessment if their IEP team determines that they are unable to take one or more parts of the CELDT even with variations, accommodations, and/or modifications.
Do students who use American Sign Language take the CELDT?For purposes of CELDT testing and Title III services, American Sign Language (ASL), in and of itself, is not considered a “language other than English,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. Students who use ASL for communication and have not been exposed to any language other than English should not be considered for CELDT testing. The individualized education program (IEP) team should consider CELDT testing—with appropriate variations, accommodations, modifications, or alternate assessment(s)—for a student who uses ASL for communication due to deafness or hearing impairment and for whom there is another primary language other than English as indicated on the student’s home language survey.
Do fifth year seniors take the CELDT?Yes. Until an English learner (ages 3–21 per Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) is no longer enrolled or is reclassified as fluent English proficient, s/he must take the CELDT.
Do foreign exchange students take the CELDT?Yes. The law does not specify that any student(s) may be exempted.
Do students in transitional kindergarten classes take the CELDT?Yes. These students are to take the kindergarten test. All students enrolled in the LEA in the first year of a two-year kindergarten program (i.e., transitional kindergarten), whose primary language is other than English as determined by a home language survey, must be administered the CELDT within 30 calendar days of enrollment or 60 calendar days prior to instruction, but not before July 1, per CELDT California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 5, Section 11511. The latest information about transitional kindergarten is available on the CDE's Transitional Kindergarten FAQs Web page.
How do we code the answer documents for transitional kindergarten students?Students in the first year of a transitional kindergarten class will need to have their answer document coded as “K” for grade level and their test purpose will be “Initial Assessment.” The following year these same students will again be coded as “K” for grade level and their test purpose will be “Annual Assessment.”
Will the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) report transitional kindergarten students separately?No. For more information, visit the CDE's CALPADS Web page.
Do private school students take the CELDT?No. Private school students do not take the CELDT.
Do students enrolled in a Non-Public School (NPS) take the CELDT?Students who are placed in a Non-Public School based on an individualized education program by an LEA are the responsibility of the LEA. The LEA must coordinate with the Non-Public school to administer the CELDT to eligible pupils. A trained test examiner must administer the CELDT.
How are CELDT scores obtained for students coming from other districts?Previous CELDT scores are available in CALPADS. Please coordinate with your district's CALPADS administrator to access the Assessment Reports. When viewing the top area of CALPADS, highlight Assessment. In the dropdown menu, select Reports and Extracts. Then click on Assessment Reports. Select CELDT Reports. Click on "22.2 California English Language Development Test (CELDT) - Student List" to view CELDT scores for a student's Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing scores as well as the Overall score. For assistance with CALPADS, complete the CDE's CALPADS Service Request Form.
To request CELDT scores from a previous LEA, provide the LEA with the CDE's Request Form CELDT Score cover letter and a sample form which you may download from here: CELDT Score Request Form (DOC). Per California Code of Regulations (Title 5, Section 11512), the sending district has 20 calendar days to transfer CELDT records to your district.
What if a student is absent throughout the Annual Assessment window?A pupil should be given the opportunity to complete the test as soon as possible. Submit the test to the testing contractor once it is completed with your next monthly shipment of materials. The student will receive scores, but the report will indicate “Annual Assessment – Outside the Window.”
Can parents have their children exempted from taking the CELDT?No. Parents cannot “opt out” of the CELDT because English language proficiency assessment is both a federal (NCLB Title I, section 1111[b] and Title III, 2002) and state requirement (Education Code 313).
For information regarding “opting out” of English language instructional services, contact the CDE Language Policy and Leadership Office at 916-319-0845.
Can changing the answers on the home language survey (HLS) change the students’ identification from English learner to English only and exempt the student from taking the CELDT?If a language other than English was inaccurately included on the HLS, a parent/guardian may update the HLS to accurately reflect the language(s) spoken in the home. However, if a pupil has already completed a CELDT and has been designated an English learner, the pupil must take the assessment annually until they are reclassified fluent English proficient.
What is the guidance for designating a student as Initial Fluent English Proficient (IFEP)?Upon first enrollment in a California public school, a student is considered Initial Fluent English Proficient when he or she has met the CELDT criterion. In July 2010, the SBE modified the definition of the English proficiency level for students in kindergarten through grade one (K–1). K–1 students are considered to have met the CELDT criterion for English proficiency when:
- Overall performance level is Early Advanced or higher, and
- Domain scores for Listening and Speaking are at the Intermediate level or higher.
If the CELDT criterion is met, the domain scores for
Reading and Writing are not required to be at the Intermediate level
for an IFEP designation.
Students in grades two through twelve are considered to have met the CELDT criterion for English proficiency when:
- Overall performance level is Early Advanced or higher, and
- Domain scores for Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing are at the Intermediate level or higher.
How does an English learner become a Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) student?Under current state law (Education Code Section 313[f]), students who are identified as English learners must participate in the annual administration of the CELDT until they are identified as RFEP. LEAs are to establish local reclassification policies and procedures based on the four criteria below:
- Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, including, but not limited to, the English language development test that is developed or acquired pursuant to Education Code Section 60810.
- Teacher evaluation, including, but not limited to, a review of the pupil’s curriculum mastery.
- Parental opinion and consultation.
- Comparison of the performance of the pupil in basic
skills against an empirically established range of performance in basic
skills based upon the performance of English proficient pupils of the
same age, that demonstrates whether the pupil is sufficiently proficient
in English to participate effectively in a curriculum designed for
pupils of the same age whose native language is English.
How do I get CELDT materials so that I may administer the test at my school?Only the CELDT District Coordinator can order and distribute testing materials within your district. You will need to contact your CELDT District Coordinator. All test examiners must be trained and sign a test security affidavit.